Missive from the Red Sea



The second of three sea days.  Which are becoming worryingly hard to come by.  We have several port days back to back coming up, with 14-hour tours at each.  So by the time we enter the Med, I shall be absolutely cream crackered.  Therefore, today, while I still have the time and the energy, I packed two suitcases.  Which leaves one case plus the holdall and vanity case left to do nearer the end.  I’ve tried to arrange things so that the things I need when I get back will all be in one case.  Not sure how successful I’ve been, but, hey. *shrug*

Mumbai was surprisingly enjoyable. Apparently because we arrived on the Muslim festival of Ashura so people weren’t about and there were no crowds or traffic. Did you know there’s a beach in the centre of Mumbai?! No, neither did I! We did a bus tour of the city with photo stops and traditional dancing demo, which was cool. I imagined Indian dancing was going to be as slow and delicate as Thai dancing, for example. It isn’t! There are some slow dances but most are very bouncy and energetic with jumping and drumming and running and stuff. Very enjoyable. They did dances from most Indian states and the differences in costumes and styles of dancing were very interesting to note. Pootled around a few shops and ended up with tea in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Very pleasant. Although why the hotel was having a Swiss Food Festival, I have no idea. Is Switzerland renowned for its cuisine?!

That was the end of the third leg of the cruise. 300 people got off and 300 got on. And most of the crew seems to have changed too! Now we are on the fourth and final leg. The home stretch. With an AWFUL lot to cram into the remaining time.

Oman was brill. The desert was just as wonderful as the other deserts I have been to. I LOVE deserts. The welcome by the people of Salalah was warm and friendly and helpful and the way we were treated was fabulous. It did take a day or so for my vertebrae and neck to recover from the four by four trip over the dunes and rocks afterwards, but it was a very enjoyable day. Saw the lost city of Ubar, which was pretty amazing. It was buried by the sands and only found by accident by satellite images. Finding toilet roll available in a mud hut, open to the sky, non-flushing toilet in the middle of the desert was also pretty surprising. As was the fact that the toilet had an attendant! Seriously. Slap bang in the middle of the desert. Three hours west from Salalah. Look it up if you don’t believe me. It’s called The Empty Quarter. Trust me. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

The parents had a slightly less fun time as they went into town and, of course, being a Muslim country, we contrived to arrive on a Friday, so everything was shut. The cruise company are IDIOTS. The level of stupidity of the person who planned this itinerary is breathtaking. We did a calculation and found that almost HALF of our stops have been closed, due to Sundays, Fridays and local and national and religious holidays. For goodness’ sake. HALF. Do we get half our money back? I’m guessing not…?! This is only my personal opinion, of course. For what it’s worth. I’m not complaining here, that would be futile. But it is exasperating and annoying all the same. How would you feel?!


The second of three sea days. Which are becoming worryingly hard to come by. We have several port days back to back coming up, with 14-hour tours at each. So by the time we enter the Med, I shall be absolutely cream crackered. Therefore, today, while I still have the time and the energy, I packed two suitcases. Which leaves one case plus the holdall and vanity case left to do nearer the end. I’ve tried to arrange things so that the things I need when I get back will all be in one case. Not sure how successful I’ve been, but, hey. *shrug*

Mumbai was surprisingly enjoyable. Apparently because we arrived on the Muslim festival of Ashura so people weren’t about and there were no crowds or traffic. Did you know there’s a beach in the centre of Mumbai?! No, neither did I! We did a bus tour of the city with photo stops and traditional dancing demo, which was cool. I imagined Indian dancing was going to be as slow and delicate as Thai dancing, for example. It isn’t! There are some slow dances but most are very bouncy and energetic with jumping and drumming and running and stuff. Very enjoyable. They did dances from most Indian states and the differences in costumes and styles of dancing were very interesting to note. Pootled around a few shops and ended up with tea in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Very pleasant. Although why the hotel was having a Swiss Food Festival, I have no idea. Is Switzerland renowned for its cuisine?!

That was the end of the third leg of the cruise. 300 people got off and 300 got on. And most of the crew seems to have changed too! Now we are on the fourth and final leg. The home stretch. With an AWFUL lot to cram into the remaining time.

Oman was brill. The desert was just as wonderful as the other deserts I have been to. I LOVE deserts. The welcome by the people of Salalah was warm and friendly and helpful and the way we were treated was fabulous. It did take a day or so for my vertebrae and neck to recover from the four by four trip over the dunes and rocks afterwards, but it was a very enjoyable day. Saw the lost city of Ubar, which was pretty amazing. It was buried by the sands and only found by accident by satellite images. Finding toilet roll available in a mud hut, open to the sky, non-flushing toilet in the middle of the desert was also pretty surprising. As was the fact that the toilet had an attendant! Seriously. Slap bang in the middle of the desert. Three hours west from Salalah. Look it up if you don’t believe me. It’s called The Empty Quarter. Trust me. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

The parents had a slightly less fun time as they went into town and, of course, being a Muslim country, we contrived to arrive on a Friday, so everything was shut. P&O are IDIOTS. The level of stupidity of the person who planned this itinerary is breathtaking. We did a calculation and found that almost HALF of our stops have been closed, due to Sundays, Fridays and local and national and religious holidays. For goodness’ sake. HALF. Do we get half our money back? I’m guessing not…?! This is only my personal opinion, of course. For what it’s worth. I’m not complaining here, that would be futile. But it is exasperating and annoying all the same.


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